“Rolls-Royce has always made autonomous cars,” its urbane CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, once told me. “But instead of the software driving, we use a chauffeur.”
Behind his usual dry wit lies a truth that will protect luxury carmakers in the disruption about to engulf the auto industry. That change will arrive in three waves. The first is breaking now: electric cars. Then come autonomous vehicles, which will then give rise to the third wave, in which we summon self-driving cars on demand rather than owning them. The result will be a shake-up of every industry certainty.